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The World's Opposing Forces, Plus Giraffes
July 21, 2010 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Where can you find the Sun, the Moon, nine giraffes, a lion and lamb lying together, the Archangel Michael holding a sword in one hand and the severed head of Satan in the other, all atop a giant crab which is itself standing on a double helix? Well, there is this one statue.

Artist Greg Wyatt (Flash, sort of obnoxious to navigate) created the Peace Fountain as Sculptor-in-Residence at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City. His other works include a series of sculptures based on Shakespeare's plays (exhibited in Stratford-Upon-Avon with copies in Washington D.C.) and Columbia University's Scholar's Lion, which was awarded Best Metal Testicles by the Village Voice in 2004.

Wyatt was featured in a PBS Sunday Arts Profile in 2008, where he discussed some of his work (although not, sadly, the metal testicles).

More photos of the Peace Fountain are available at Atlas Obscura (previously) and Flickr.

And there may be a peace fountain near you. It's unlikely to have quite so many giraffes.
posted by davidjmcgee (50 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
...which was awarded Best Metal Testicles by the Village Voice in 2004.

So the Scholar's Lion, the Bowling Green Bull and Alec Baldwin walk into a bar...
posted by griphus at 9:09 AM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh man, at first glance I though that said testi...Huh. It does.
posted by DU at 9:10 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm on a crab.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:12 AM on July 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I fucking love that statue.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on July 21, 2010


My sister lives near that statue. We wandered by it once and I pointed out how bizarre it was; she was surprised she walked past it so often without never noticing its craziness. All the other little statues that ring it are great too.
posted by painquale at 9:18 AM on July 21, 2010


And sort of from the other end of the spectrum, my husband and I recently got a look at the statute of Satan in the Retiro Park in Spain. To quote Wikipedia:

Among the many rose bushes of all kinds stands the Fountain of the Falling Angel, erected in 1922, whose main sculpture El Angel Caído (at the top) is a work by Ricardo Bellver (1845–1924) inspired by a passage from John Milton's Paradise Lost [3], which represents Lucifer falling from Heaven. It is claimed that this statue is the only known public monument of the devil.
posted by bearwife at 9:19 AM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nine giraffes—among the most peaceable of animals—nestle and prance about the center.

Every work of art should be required to include this element.
posted by Think_Long at 9:21 AM on July 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's crabs all the way down!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 9:23 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nine giraffes—among the most peaceable of animals

Animal Planet disagrees. Your argument is invalid.

A giraffe's head is basically a flail with eyes and a long blue tongue.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:26 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sheh... nice repost from LOOKATTHISAWESOMEFUCKINGSTATUE.tumblr.com
posted by codacorolla at 9:28 AM on July 21, 2010


This is very cool. I love MeFi posts like this - the first link is to something that is relatively small and that might be (and probably is, in person) overlooked, but it's like opening a small box and finding something awesome & way more than you expected inside. I had also forgotten about the Shakespeare statues so thank you for the re-introduction.
posted by pointystick at 9:29 AM on July 21, 2010


CheeseDigestsAll: I'm on a crab.

He's on a crab
He's on a crab!
A fine archangelical
twisted and helical
half-diabolical
craaab

*dances*
posted by vanar sena at 9:34 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I used to live near St. John the Divine, and was positively mesmerized by this statue. Possibly my favorite piece of public art, ever. Thanks for sharing!
posted by Polyhymnia at 9:36 AM on July 21, 2010


Was this wonderful magnificent statue ever in any movies? If not, it should be.
posted by blucevalo at 9:41 AM on July 21, 2010


So the Scholar's Lion, the Bowling Green Bull and Alec Baldwin walk into a bar...

That might have been funnier with Stephen Colbert (YouTube, should-be-illegal autoplay).
posted by quarantine at 9:45 AM on July 21, 2010


Where can you find the Sun, the Moon, nine giraffes, a lion and lamb lying together, the Archangel Michael holding a sword in one hand and the severed head of Satan in the other, all atop a giant crab which is itself standing on a double helix?

See, and here I was hoping this would be the most fucked up askme ever!

And how come no pictures of the Lion testicles?
posted by cjorgensen at 9:47 AM on July 21, 2010


i swear to god i thought you were going to link to this.
posted by msconduct at 9:48 AM on July 21, 2010


Columbia University's Scholar's Lion, which was awarded Best Metal Testicles by the Village Voice in 2004.

I won the award in 2002; so that's TWO things I have in common with Columbia University's Scholar's Lion.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:49 AM on July 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


This statue scared the crap out of me as a kid.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:53 AM on July 21, 2010


Don't forget the "Animals of Freedom" sculptures by children, arranged around the base. Some are adorable, but some are... different.

(Pay no attention to the pictures of me chasing pigeons.)
posted by Madamina at 9:55 AM on July 21, 2010


St. John the Divine is pretty much the coolest church ever. We saw an amazing presentation of Nosferatu there last Halloween.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2010


Speaking of weird sculptures, you must see this one, from Russia: The children - victims of adult vices (more)
posted by Theloupgarou at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


a 1985 sculpture and fountain

That does some small part to explain, actually.
posted by peep at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2010


Best Metal Testicles? Is it too late to enter Portland's own swinging and dangling Pod?
posted by redsparkler at 10:07 AM on July 21, 2010


Nine giraffes—among the most peaceable of animals

This is so demonstrably untrue as to be funny. But it got me thinking, what would I consider to be a "peaceable animal"?

I think I'm gonna go with porcupine; they can just kinda trundle around and do their thing without ever needing to have an aggressive bone in their bodies.
posted by quin at 10:11 AM on July 21, 2010


I'm currently sandwiched between two pretty cool churches.

One is the Mikael Agricola


The other is the Johannes Kirkkus
posted by infini at 10:12 AM on July 21, 2010


Oh man. This is great. I am going to check it out this weekend.
posted by mrgarlic at 10:12 AM on July 21, 2010


*rolls eyes at self and drags away by collar*
posted by infini at 10:14 AM on July 21, 2010


"The sculpture depicts the struggle of good and evil, as well as a battle between the Archangel Michael and Satan."

Isn't that a bit superfluous? I mean, isn't Michael vs. Satan already a pretty obvious struggle of good and evil? Hm, nitpicking a Wikipedia article.. I'm gonna go sizzle in the sun a bit.
posted by pyrex at 10:16 AM on July 21, 2010


This thing is so hideous it is wonderful. The very loud white peacock that hangs out around the sculpture only makes it more wonderful.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:22 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


pyrex: isn't Michael vs. Satan already a pretty obvious struggle of good and evil?

'xcept Michael's title is "Viceroy of Heaven", which used to be Satan's job. With as little as one can trust self-righteous modern accounts of actual intra-office politics, the chance that one can trust self-righteous ancient accounts of fictional intra-office politics, when Michael's colleagues filed the HR writeup, seems vanishingly small.

I mean, assemble a million of those small chances and they could still dance on the head of a pin.
posted by quarantine at 10:29 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If somebody ever invents a machine that brings statues to life, we're screwed.
This is why I think sculptors should only make statues of nice things like kitty cats or the cure for cancer.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:36 AM on July 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's sweet and all, but it's no Turtle Boy.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:46 AM on July 21, 2010


I am not sure that calling a statue that "depicts the struggle of good and evil," the "Peace Fountain" is strictly accurate. I mean, can it be peaceful and struggling? Or is it just peaceful because one side has been decapitated?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:47 AM on July 21, 2010


I think I'm gonna go with porcupine; they can just kinda trundle around and do their thing without ever needing to have an aggressive bone in their bodies.

Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University disagrees.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:02 AM on July 21, 2010


Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University disagrees.

I'm pretty sure the The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center would tell Sidney Sussex that defaming porcupines thusly is inappropriate. (YouTube, auto-start).

It's too bad that the porcupine himself is so polite, as "Stinky to Sidney Sussex: 'Suck It'" would be a great headline.
posted by quarantine at 11:11 AM on July 21, 2010


You had me at giraffes!
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:23 AM on July 21, 2010


The story is that Francis Sidney had only heard of the porcupine in stories, and assumed that it was a massive, ferocious beast unlike any the world had ever seen.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:25 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


St. John the Divine is pretty much the coolest church ever.

The stone carving on the cathedral is just as weird (actually not that weird by medieval standards) as the crab/satan sculpture if you look at the details on the entrance...

One of the stone carvers from St. John does his own work now, if you like the style...
posted by ennui.bz at 11:33 AM on July 21, 2010


This is so demonstrably untrue as to be funny. But it got me thinking, what would I consider to be a "peaceable animal"?

Sloths. Obviously.
posted by that's candlepin at 11:48 AM on July 21, 2010


battleshipkropotkin: "It's crabs all the way down!"

I think I read this the wrong way
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2010


No doubt porcupines are personally delightful, but any animal that can do this, even in self defense, can't really qualify as a symbol of peace. Still remember seeing a huge grizzly in Denali park with a boatload of quills in his nose. That was not a bear filled with peace.
posted by bearwife at 1:01 PM on July 21, 2010


Slothgar the Claw Wielder: BARBARIAN ... FEEL ... My ... wrath ... must ... sleep ... smiteytime later
posted by zippy at 2:10 PM on July 21, 2010


A smaller version of this sculpture, called "The Fantasy Fountain", can be seen in Gramercy Park, also in Manhattan. This is a private park which requires a key for entry, but you can see the statue easily at the southeast corner, through the fence.
posted by aletheia at 2:35 PM on July 21, 2010


bearwife : That was not a bear filled with peace.

But clearly you have a pro-bear bias. Plus, lookatthatface...
posted by quin at 2:43 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


But clearly you have a pro-bear bias.

Oh name, you have betrayed me! *Sobs* I admit it, I love (my particular) Bear more than anything in the world.

I also acknowledge porcupines are adorable, face on. But still deny they are peace inspiring.
posted by bearwife at 2:51 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously. And man oh man do I ever need a tiny reproduction of this in my house to scare eventual children with.
posted by jtron at 2:57 PM on July 21, 2010


Jtron, if you really want to scare children with a sculpture near Columbia, try the Bellerophon Taming Pegasus number outside the law school. I know someone who managed to take a nap in the law library while that was being installed, and who wondered when he awoke if he was really awake, or having a nightmare.
posted by bearwife at 3:08 PM on July 21, 2010


My sister went to St John the Divine as a student and sang in the choir with my dad; that was our church, to the extent we had one. I was always sort of jealous that she got to go to school in a sort of Narnian wonderland while I had to go to school in a television set at Calhoun.

Anyway, my point is: never mind the vicious giraffes on the statue. It's the vicious peacocks all over the grounds that you need to look out for. Beautiful, but with an attitude problem. The school frequently used the grounds for events and gatherings and the peacoks would make them selves scarce or hang out low in the bushes. Then all of a sudden they'd decide it was time for the humans to go home and CHARGE the crowd.

There is nothing like the sight of a four foot wall of technicolor acid trip bearing down on your 8 year old self to make you decide that nature isn't really all it's cracked up to be.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:46 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty damn ugly statue, and yeah, giraffes can totally throw down.
posted by elder18 at 5:07 PM on July 21, 2010


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